Monday 19 February 2018

Johnny Fallon: Referendum call could be the defining moment for this Government .. and even Michael D.

THE government seems pretty happy and confident that no referendum will be needed on the so called fiscal compact. Avoiding a referendum solves a lot of problems in the short-term. There remain some risks; with a public showing high levels of support for a referendum Michael D. Higgins may see his presidency defined by the pressure he will feel to refer the matter to the Supreme Court. The public has not seen too much of him and he will be accused of selling his soul for the job if he doesn’t. Right now things might be a lot simpler if Gay Mitchell had become president.

If by some chance a referendum was needed the government faces a problem. It would be far better to call one now than be seen to be forced to call one by the Supreme Court. They know, however, that getting a referendum through would be no easy task. The fiscal compact is not simple; they brought home no goodies to sell it with. Fianna Fail might even be tempted to say the government should have done better and oppose the deal. Now that would be quite a landmark.

If worst came to the worst and a referendum was called the government would need to be very brave if it wants it to get passed. Michael Noonan said some time ago that any referendum would in essence be about our membership of the EU. While not technically incorrect, he had a point. In a referendum a government would need to depart from the Nice and Lisbon formula of ignoring the possibility of losing and passing it off as an unknown. This time the government would need to lay out a plan of exactly what it intends to do if we vote yes and more importantly if we vote no.

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